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Republican 3rd Congressional District candidate Scott Hammond, left, listens while Democratic 3rd Congressional District candidate Susie Lee speaks during the Hispanics in Politics breakfast in Las Vegas on Wednesday, November 15, 2017. (Jeff Scheid/The Nevada Independent)

The Asian American Group is backing Democrat Susie Lee for Congress after supporting her opponent, Republican Danny Tarkanian, in the 2016 election.

Dennis Rucker, the group’s executive vice president, said that Lee outperformed Tarkanian when they interviewed the pair together, even answering one of his questions when he forgot what an acronym stood for. He added that while Tarkanian was “probably the better candidate at the time” when he was running against now-Rep. Jacky Rosen for the 3rd Congressional District in 2016, Lee “definitely stood out in comparison,” garnering the most votes within the group for the endorsement.

He also said the fact that Tarkanian only decided to enter the race after an appeal from President Donald Trump urged him to abandon a Republican primary attempt against incumbent Dean Heller for U.S. Senate didn’t sit well with some members of the group.

“We understand that he has to do things politically, but from our standpoint when you’re only doing what the party tells you to do you’re not listening to the people,” Rucker said. “If the people wanted you to run for Senate, you should run for Senate.”

Rucker said that Lee just “had a better interview.”

“We like Danny as a person, but at the end of the day, it just comes down to who’s going to represent the people versus the party,” Rucker said.

In a statement, Asian American Group chairman Mike Vaswani said that Lee “shares our values and will be a strong advocate from the Asian American community in Congress.”

“Susie has demonstrated a commitment to improving educational opportunities, supporting small businesses, and working with anyone who wants to make positive difference,” Vaswani said. “We strongly support Susie Lee for Congress.”

Lee said in a statement that she is “honored” to have the group’s support and is looking forward to working closely with them in the years ahead.

The Asian American Group is the third organization to decide to back Lee after supporting Tarkanian in his bid for the 3rd Congressional District two years ago.

In August, the National Association of Realtors said that it was backing Lee, calling her a “common sense problem solver.” A month later, the Asian American Chamber of Commerce announced its support for Lee as well, calling the education advocate and philanthropist “new blood, new energy.”

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